The Federal Communication Commission is adding another round to its forward auction bidding schedule on Tuesday in a move that will raise the number of rounds to three but reduce the number of bidding hours.
According to a Friday announcement on the auction dashboard, the auction will move to a schedule of three one-hour bidding sessions from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The auction previously included two two-hour bidding rounds from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The change will decrease daily bidding time from four hours to three.
An FCC spokesman said changing the number of rounds in auction bidding was a fairly common practice. The auction team is monitoring the proceedings and will continue to make adjustments based on the auction’s progress and feedback from participants, he said. The change is not a signal of anything either good or bad, the spokesman said.
The FCC’s forward auction headed into Round 8 on Monday with a total of more than $11.5 billion in bids, according to the auction dashboard.
The figure was up from just $8.5 billion in auction proceeds from the first round of bidding last week.
Demand appeared to be holding strong in the nation’s top three markets – New York, N.Y., Los Angeles, Calif., and Chicago, Ill. Aggregate demand on Friday afternoon remained at 29 and 24 blocks in New York and Chicago and 19 blocks in Los Angeles, where five blocks are actually available.
Bidding also appeared to have picked up for spectrum in West coast cities like Seattle, Wash., and Portland, Ore. As of the end of round 8, those cities had 12 bids each for 10 blocks of available spectrum, compared to the six and five bids each city had, respectively, after the first round. In many other areas of the country, however, demand remained slack.
Forward auction bidders are striving to hit an $86.4 billion price target set by broadcasters in the reverse auction. If demand does not reach supply, then a second reverse auction will be held with a lower clearing target of 90 MHz, the FCC has said.
AT&T is already looking beyond the auction.
The carrier recently submitted details of a proposed regional repacking plan to the FCC to facilitate the speedy transition of spectrum to the carriers post auction.
The plan breaks the country up into four regions – East, Midwest, Central and West – that correlate to the FCC’s market area boundaries where possible. Each region also includes a number of sub-regions, breaking the country up into a total of 15 areas. AT&T said the sub regions are used to “decouple daisy chain impacts,” facilitate effective management and help prevent delays and unforeseen costs.
The idea of a regional transition plan has also previously been supported by the National Association of Broadcasters.
The FCC is giving broadcasters 39 months to transition following the conclusion of the auction, but concerns have arisen over whether such a move is possible in the time allotted.
AT&T’s vice president of federal regulatory affairs Joan Marsh has previously said the 39-month transition will be an “enormous lift,” while T-Mobile and the Competitive Carriers Association have argued the schedule is more than doable.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)